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  1. Default Philly->San Fran and back, 10 weeks

    Hello everyone,

    I've been perusing this site and these forums for a few days now, and have found all the information and advice to be extremely helpful. I thought that maybe I could post the details of my upcoming road trip and some more experienced travelers could offer a few nuggets of wisdom. First, a bit of background. I'm 23, just quit my job and am starting law school in august on a full scholarship, so I decided to blow my savings this summer on a road trip:) I've done my share of traveling, but never by car. I'm an avid rock climber, and so am used to camping, hostels, etc. Also, I went to college in St. Louis, and have done the 14 hour drive nonstop atleast 6 times, so I know I can handle long hours alone in the car. On to the trip!

    My trip is planned to be very climbing and poker-centric (I've built up quite a bit of comps at harrah's casinos, and plan on cashing them in for free weeknight rooms along the way). So here's the locale breakdown:
    Philly-->St. Louis (stay with friends)
    St. Louis-->Boulder, CO (stay with friends)
    Boulder-->Albuquerque (camp)
    Albuquerque-->Vegas (cheap hotel)
    vegas-->Yosemite (camp)
    Yosemite-->Lake Tahoe (hostel)
    Lake Tahoe-->San Francisco (hostel)
    San Francisco--> No. Cal coast (camp)
    No Cal coast-->Reno (free hotel)
    Reno --> Salt Lake City (camp)
    Salt Lake City-->Veadawoo, So WY (camp)
    Veadawoo-->Omaha Nebraska (free Harrahs hotel)
    Omaha-->Kansas City (free Harrahs hotel)
    Kansas City-->St. Louis (stay with friends)
    St. Louis-->Fayetteville, WV (camp)

    Luckily for me, most climbing areas are so remote that landowners cant get away with charging much more than $6-8/night for camping privileges. Therefore, I have budgeted my lodging at $100/wk. This does not include my stay in Vegas or San Francisco, which have already been paid for. $800 total (ten week trip - 2 weeks Vegas/SF)

    I have liberally allotted myself 10,000 miles for the trip. At 25 mpg and $3.75/gal thats another $1425.

    I plan on cooking my own meals most of the time (cold cuts for lunch, have a propane grill for dinner), however, in Vegas, San Fran, and when I'm with friends in St. Louis and CO I may be eating out a bit. I also smoke about a half pack a day (bad, I know), and like to party some when the mood strikes (climbing campsites can get pretty rowdy). I've allotted $40/day for 'consumables' - food, smokes, and beer. $2800 total.

    I have a $2000 fix-the-car budget, which will include oil changes. I'm hoping to escape with most of this intact. This portion of my budget is in the form of plastic (repayable with money expected upon return). If my car really eats it for some reason, I'm gonna suck it up, find my way to an airport, and go home. FYI, I have a 2001 Outback with 142,000 miles on it. My last Subaru (purchased for $750 with 185,000 miles) lasted to 215,000. If mine makes it through this trip I'm hoping it will also last me through school - 3 more years.

    I'm sure half the fun of posting here for most is reading other's itineraries and seeing all the cool stuff they're doing; it has been for me. I guess what I'm hoping for by posting here is that more experienced roadtrippers can point out potential holes in my plan. My total budget is $5025, with $2000 set aside for potential car repairs. FYI, the money I'll be gambling with comes from a separate fund. I've been playing cards on the side for about two years with a good deal of success, mostly because I treat it like a business and don't dip into my poker money when my checking account is looking grim. I'm actually hoping that my time in Vegas and the odd casinos along the way will pay for most of the trip, but thats besides the point. I'm planning as if it wont.

    Also most welcome are any suggestions on places to stay, things to do, etc at the places I mentioned above (or any in between).

    Thanks for listening, and thanks for any help!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Looks ok

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you've mostly got a well laid out plan, although I can't exactly figure out your timeframe. I assume you are going to be staying at each of your stops for a few days?

    Since it appears that you have quite a bit of time to work with, I would really look at cutting down those driving distances. Even if you can drive those long distances without problems, you might want to take the opportunity to explore some the things from point a to point b, which you won't be able to do if you are trying to drive 14+ hours a day. For example, if I had 10 weeks for a roadtrip, I'd want to spend at least a week exploring the area between Boulder and Albq.

    I think your lodging budget might be a bit on a the low side. Even a cheap motel will usually run about $50, and hostel stays are typically $20-25, so those can eat up a $100 per week lodging budget pretty quickly if you aren't careful.

    Otherwise, I think you've got a pretty solid outline. Enjoy your trip.

  3. Default A few more details...

    Thanks for the advice Michael. I know $100/week seems low, but between the lodging I've already paid for and the time I'll be camping for free or staying with friends I think it'll work out. I'll provide more detail below and do a little worksheet for myself to see how accurate it may be (I just kinda guessed before).

    Also, I totally agree about the points in between, but I spent plenty of time in the midwest in college, and i just want to plow through that. On the way home I'll break up the driving more, but going out will be the two longest drives of the trip - 14 hrs to st. louis and 12 to boulder. Do you have any reccomendations for things to do and see between CO and Albuquerque? I was planning on spending the time between CO and Vegas mostly in NM and AZ, but if there's some other cool stuff in between I'm flexible (that's the whole point of the road trip, right?). I'm getting really excited about this, so I hope that I'm not rambling or boring everyone with the details, but in reference to the timeline and lodging, here's a bunch more detail about the trip:

    Philly-->St. Louis, 14 hr drive, (stay with friends) 5 days in and around st. louis, all lodging is free

    St. Louis-->Boulder, CO, 12 hr drive, (stay with friends) 6 days climbing, all lodging is free. At this point its about june 7, and my reservations in vegas start the 12th, so I will have some time to explore the southwest en route to vegas.

    Boulder-->Albuquerque, 7 hr drive, (camp) paying for lodging for 5 nights here. I planned on spending atleast one night in albuquerque, maybe another night in flagstaff, just floating around AZ and NM for a few days really.

    Albuquerque-->Vegas (cheap hotel) the lodging in vegas is already paid for, I'm not counting this against my budget. I'm staying in vegas for two weeks because of the 'cultural' attractions, and also because there is a ton of fabulous climbing within one hour of the city. I also plan on hitting up the grand canyon and lake mead for one day each.

    vegas-->Yosemite (camp)
    Yosemite-->Lake Tahoe (hostel) These two destinations are really just the highlights of the central sierra in general. Camping at yosemite is $3/night, and there's a laid back hoistel in lake tahoe i found that goes at $25/night, but i may be able to camp in the yard there for a little less. There are also primitive camp sites near the climbing areas in tahoe that are free. I'll be in the sierra for two weeks, and I expect to split my time about 75/25 between free or very cheap camping and hostels.

    Lake Tahoe-->San Francisco (hostel) all paid for 3 nights

    San Francisco--> No. Cal coast 4 hr drive,(camp) the camping here ranges from free primitive sites to $5/night for water and outhouses to $22/night for KOA-like accomodations. 4 nights

    No Cal coast-->Reno 7 hrs, (free hotel) 1 night as a wayside to Salt Lake

    Reno --> Salt Lake City 7 hrs, (camp) I plan on being in and around SLC for one week, mostly doing cheap camping, but maybe with a motel for a night or two. I also plan on branching out to southern idaho for a night or two.

    Salt Lake City-->Veadawoo, So WY 5.5 hrs, (camp) camping is free, 2-3 days here

    Veadawoo-->Omaha Nebraska 7.5 hours, (free Harrahs hotel) 1 night

    Omaha-->Kansas City (free Harrahs hotel) i may skip kansas city if im feeling good, but i scheduled it in because the driving is getting intense toward the end of the trip. 2.5 hrs to KC, 6.5 if i go direct to st. louis

    Kansas City-->St. Louis (stay with friends), 2 nights to rest up

    St. Louis-->Fayetteville, WV 9 hrs, (camp) $8/night for 3-4 nights

    WV-->home 7 hrs

    total 68-72 nights
    -free camping or with friends 16 nights
    -lodging pre-paid 16 nights
    -free hotels 3 nights
    -cheap camping $3-$10 18 nights
    nice camping/motels/hostels the rest of the time, 19 nights avg about $30/night (note - only using motels when on the road and tired, maybe 1 or 2 nights total)
    -total lodging about $700 for 7 weeks


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Optimistic - TOO Optimistic

    Just a warning, that I suspect you are using your time estimates from an internet map site, and they are almost always way too optimistic. The first two legs are the most concerning.

    Philly to St. Louis is 900 miles and will take you at least 16 hours.

    St. Louis to Boulder is almost the same distance, and you'd have to average 73 mph to cover that ground in 12 hours. So unless you've got a bottomless gas tank and a police escort, that trip will take you significantly more time than you expect.

    Both really are far more distance that is recommended for a solo driver in a single day. While I know you say you have experience with long drives, that same experience should tell you that it is very easly to lose focus after so many hours alone behind the wheel. Having several days to rest up between these long drives will help, but since you've got several weeks, I'd would at least think about breaking those trips up a little bit.

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